LEADERS HONORED AT
4TH ANNUAL BLACK EXCELLENCE BUSINESS EXPO
Higher Works Collaborative’s 4th Annual Black Excellence Business Expo Feb. 17-19 at the Park Event Center brought together more than 500 people to celebrate Black owned businesses, entrepreneurs and other Black excellence across our region.
The GSDC was pleased to help sponsor the event, at which the Community Service Award was presented to recently retired St. Cloud Police Chief W. Blair Anderson. Others honored included James Turner, who received the Community Impact Award, Ellora Jackson, owner of Ellora’s Beauty Supply, being named Entrepreneur of the Year, and Donna and John McCray, who received the Robert Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award. GSDC President Patti Gartland provided the keynote for the donor appreciation luncheon.
The event program, which features information about other award winners and more than 30 Black-owned or led organizations, is here.
FEB. 16 ANNUAL MEETING RECAP, PLUS MATERIALS TO DOWNLOAD
It was great to interact with the more than 130 investors and stakeholders who attended the GSDC Annual Meeting on Feb. 16 at Capital One. Congratulations to Vex Robotics for receiving the GSDC Community Catalyst Award and to Brian Myres, a founding board member, for receiving the 2023 Leadership Award.
And thank you to the mayors of Sartell, Sauk Rapids, St. Cloud, St. Joseph and Waite Park for participating in a lively, moderated panel discussion, and also to DEED’s Luke Greiner, for his informative presentation on our cities’ current statistics and opportunities.
Before 2022 gets too far in your rearview mirror, remember everything that your support helped the GSDC accomplish during the year, while also setting the stage for our future priorities. Click on our 2022 Annual Report, 2023-2025 Strategic Priorities brochure and 2022 Highlights Video.
13TH ANNUAL VEX ROBOTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
THIS WEEK AT RIVER’S EDGE
St. Cloud Technical & Community College will host the 13th Annual Minnesota VEX Robotics State Championship at the River’s Edge Convention Center March 2-4. Two-hundred teams of students in grades 3-12 design, build, and program robots to compete in a game challenge which changes every year. Forty-three teams from Minnesota will qualify to compete at the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas.
If you’ve never seen these amazing young people at work, stop by. Admission is free. Additional information about the 2023 State Championship can be found at vexmn.com.
VEX Robotics is a competition-based program presented by the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation for students in Elementary School through College. There are more than 21,000 teams from over 50 countries who compete each season.
Over the past 13 years, Minnesota’s VEX Robotics program has grown exponentially. When the program started during the 2011-2012 season, there were 45 teams which consisted of middle school and high school students. Out of those 45 teams, 22 qualified for the first Minnesota VEX Robotics State Championship. Minnesota now has 423 teams which span from elementary school to high school aged students. Two hundred teams will compete at this year’s State Championship.
The VEX Robotics program in Minnesota is supported by many industry sponsors. Central McGowan and Park Industries are two of VEX Minnesota’s supporters. Joan Schatz, CEO of Park Industries, explained, “The program provides invaluable exposure to STEAM for MN youth, some of whom may not have had access historically. VEX supplies its participants with an incredible skill set to solve complex challenges and think creatively, and participation has been proven to increase teamwork and communication skills, both of which are critical for students as they navigate primary schooling, continued education, and eventually the workforce.”
Joe Francis, President/CEO of Central McGowan, added, “Robotics programs like VEX open up a wide array of careers to students – careers they may never have considered otherwise. These include technical fields like engineering, science, research, aeronautics and biochemistry as well as trades like welding or manufacturing technicians. While some of these require 4-year (or more) college degrees, some require just 2 years. Most STEM disciplines are both interesting and difficult and prepare students for jobs that pay well and are in high demand.”
VEX Robotics is an inclusive program all students can be involved in regardless of their background, culture, abilities, limitations, and restrictions. Forty-four percent of VEX participants worldwide are female. This number has continued to grow since the REC Foundation partnered with VEX Robotics to start the Girl Powered initiative in 2016. Students on VEX teams learn a combination of both hard and soft skills. These skills are crucial as students enter the workforce. After graduating from High School, many VEX participants choose to go to college to major in and eventually obtain a job in a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) field which helps to close the skilled worker gap many industries are currently experiencing.
ACTIVE CENTRAL MN SAYS ‘START TRAINING!’ FOR APRIL 21-22 EARTH DAY RUNS
Active Central Minnesota, incorporated in St. Cloud in 2018, promotes wellbeing through community-wide support of healthy, active lives. And it’s reminding us that we have just seven weeks to train for the CentraCare Earth Day Run.
The April 21-22 event includes a half marathon, half marathon relay, 5K run/walk, 5K corporate challenge, 1K kids’ run, virtual run options and expo. Find those running shoes in your closet and get ready for some good, healthy fun!
PROJECT OPTIMIST IS YET ANOTHER GREAT RESOURCE
FOR LOCAL NEWS
Lately we’ve reported on new sources for news coverage in our region, which are great to see. Project Optimist, a GSDC advocate-level investor, is another resource whose website encourages us to “see how people are taking on big problems and innovating on environmental, business and social issues.” Subscribe to its free newsletter here.
And learn more about Founder Nora Hertel’s plans for Project Optimist in this St. Cloud Shines feature.
NEW EVENT….WELCOMING WEDNESDAYS
FastLane 94 is partnering with Launch MN and other organizations across MN to host “Welcoming Wednesdays for Startups and Small Businesses”. This initiative brings together founders and community experts to discuss businesses and business ideas.
Greater St. Cloud entrepreneurs can stop by the ILT Studios Davidson Opera House, 113 5th Ave. S., St. Cloud, on March 8 from 9 – 11 a.m. to speak with experts about business growth.
No registration is required.
REMINDER OF GSDC CEO & PRESIDENT SEARCH AND OPPORTUNITY
We emailed this out last week, but in case you didn’t see it, we don’t want interested candidates to miss out.
GSDC President Patti Gartland is retiring on May 31, and our board has retained Minneapolis-based CohenTaylor Executive Search Services to lead the process of identifying her successor. If you or someone you know has interest in the position, here is the profile link with complete details, as well as contact information for CohenTaylor. All inquiries remain confidential.
- Central MN Habitat for Humanity Spotlight on Gratitude, Thursday, March 2, 5 – 7 p.m., The Grands at Mulligans, 601 Pine Cone Rd. N., Sartell. RSVP here.
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